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#78 Two fun (and brief) items

Thanks for reading this, my final blog post for the infamous year 2020.  In contrast to this seemingly unending year*, I will keep this post very brief.  I will conclude this decidedly not-fun year by presenting two fun items that I recently encountered.

* Even though today is December 28th, it feels more like March 303rd.  (I can’t take credit for this joke, but I regret that I cannot remember where I first saw a version of it.)


The first fun item is a quote from American educator Alice Wellington Rollins.  Even though I just learned of this quote within the past two weeks, it’s actually 122 years old, having appeared in the Journal of Education in 1898 (volume 47, issue 22, page 339, available here).  Stacey Hancock brought this to my attention, as she cites this quote in an article about teaching statistics that she has written for the March 2021 issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society.  I think this quote offers a valuable perspective on my “ask good questions” refrain:

The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.

Alice Wellington Rollins, Journal of Education, 1898

The second fun item is a very recent addition to the brilliant* collection of xkcd comics. 

* I like to think that I do not use the adjective brilliant casually.  If you have not seen these comics, consider taking a look.  Some particularly clever ones that address statistical ideas include: Convincing (here), Correlation (here), and Significant (here).

When I look back on this horrible but memorable year, I hope to think of this image and advice from a recent xkcd comic (available here):


Many thanks and best wishes to all who have read this blog in 2019 and 2020.  I hope that you have found something that helps you to ask good questions of your students.  My aspiration remains to write essays about teaching introductory statistics that are practical, thought-provoking, and fun*.

* And, perhaps just this once, brief.

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